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Vivendi Denies Discussing Merger With Seagram, Cox

March 27, 2000|From Reuters

LONDON — French conglomerate Vivendi denied a report Sunday that it was in merger talks with Seagram and Cox Communications to create a media giant worth more than $100 billion.

Britain's Sunday Telegraph newspaper reported that the three companies had been in talks for up to eight weeks concerning a deal to merge Vivendi and Seagram's media operations with Atlanta-based Cox's cable networks to form a global media powerhouse.

"I deny the content of this article. I haven't actually read it, so I can't deny it sentence by sentence, but I globally deny it," a Vivendi spokesman told Reuters. Seagram and Cox could not be reached for comment.

The newspaper said the deal, which would effectively see Vivendi take over Seagram and Cox, would value Seagram at up to $32 billion, with Vivendi prepared to pay 25% in cash. It did not put a price on Cox, but the Atlanta-based company has a market value of around $26 billion.

Under the mainly paper deal, Vivendi, which has a market value of about $70 billion, would sell off Seagram's beverage business, which includes top brands such as Absolut vodka and Chivas Regal Scotch.

The deal--triggered by the proposed merger of America Online and Time Warner earlier this year--would bring together Vivendi's stakes in pay-TV companies Canal Plus and British Sky Broadcasting with Seagram's Universal Studios and Cox's cable networks.

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